What’s Your Aquascaping Rock of Choice?

There are a number of choices when it comes to the rock you use for aquascaping, my personal favorite is live rockToday’s marine aquarists have more options than ever before when it comes to the types of rock used to aquascape their tanks—from live rocks, whether aquacultured or wild-harvested, to all manner of dry rocks and even natural-looking man-made rocks. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, and the choice that’s best for any given hobbyist depends on, among other factors, his or her aquascaping goals, budget, risk tolerance, and desired level of control over the system’s biodiversity. Call me old-school (or Lord Admiral Jeff of the Universe—whichever you prefer), but my aquascaping material of choice has always been live rock, whether comprising the rockwork entirely or at least a major portion of it. Here’s why:Fascinating biodiversity Live rocks come loaded with organisms that emerge or hatch out for many weeks and months—even years—after they’re added to a tank. Various “pods,” fan worms, sponges, tunicates, mollusks, worms, coral colonies, macroalgae, and coralline algae are just a sampling of what might appear. And this process/progression is truly amazing to observe. I’ve never tried it, but I think it would be fascinating to set up a live-rock-only (LRO?) tank, with no fish or intentionally introduced invertebrates, and just sit back and watch what pops out of the rocks over time

The Use of Negative Space in the Reef Aquarium Aquascape

Marine aquarium aquascapes are evolving to favor more open, irregular aestheticsOne of the more interesting developments in the reefkeeping hobby, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the latest, greatest gadget or advance in water-quality-management methodology. Rather, it’s an evolving aesthetic in aquascaping. Bored with the traditional monolithic stack of rocks propped up against the back pane and consuming much of the tank’s volume, modern reef hobbyists are starting to appreciate and experiment with the use of negative space—the open areas around the rockwork—when planning their aquascapes.The towering, uniform “wall of rock” has given way to lower-profile aquascaping with irregular, broken topography, allowing open channels and swim-throughs, caves and overhangs, islands, etc. And this trend makes perfect sense. Artists have long known the value of striking the right balance between positive and negative space in their compositions. With our reef systems essentially being living works of art, it stands to reason that the aesthetic principles guiding the works of painters and sculptors can only make our aquascapes all the more visually appealing. This aquascape features a broken topography and plenty of open sand What’s different about exploiting negative space in reefkeeping versus artwork is that it has both practical and aesthetic value